Joy and Pain

By Elysa Barron

I sit watching my daughter.  She is watching someone dig out the “apron” of a driveway to prep for concrete.

Everything is new to her.  Time is not a concern.  She is inhabiting herself and fully immersed in the moment.

How do we go from this beauty to all the “should’s” and self (hate?) And questioning ourselves too often?

When young kids are sad, they are sad, 

when they are excited, they are excited. 

They don’t tell themselves to “snap out of it” or “don’t get too excited” or any other “should”. 

They intrinsically trust themselves and their emotions.  Maybe this is because they haven’t been shown otherwise.

Somewhere along the path to becoming “adult” a lot of us lose this basic trust. We question emotions and question if we “should” feel certain ways. Sometimes we question if we are even allowed to have certain emotions/feelings.

Joy (excitement, peacefulness, enthusiasm, optimism)

Pain (guilt, anger, overwhelm, loneliness)


I find joy and struggle are linked. With birth comes death.  With pain comes growth, sometimes even joy. A flower dies and becomes part of the earth to give nourishment to other plants, vital to their growth.

Nature knows better than us.  Nature trusts.  Things are so interrelated and purposeful in ways we may not be able to conceive of.

As for joy and pain -I would even go so far as to say we are able to feel both sides of any situation for a reason – like tears of joy, or the beauty that could have been.  It’s like the ability to feel the sadness in the joy brings greater appreciation, makes the moment deeper.  To feel the joy of what could have been in a sad or painful moment gives us something to reach towards next time.  Maybe even hope for the beauty we know can exist – it just isn’t in this place and time. We are meant to grow.

Somewhere along this path to the “should’s”, pain becomes failure or the world crushing in on us.  Joy becomes the “goal” in life and we lose our connection with trust in the order and chaos of life.

Imagine emotions and self like a plant in the ocean.  Imagine there is a storm. The storm above throws the part above the water around.  It moves the part in the water to a lesser degree.  If the roots are in solid ground (the plant on the right) the base is still calm and connected.

Similarly, we can feel our emotions from the storms of life and deep down stay connected to the calm, love, “ok-ness” of ourselves and life if we have the roots deep in soil.

The soil is filled with things like unconditional love, acceptance, gentleness, kindness – all toward our self.  

And a funny thing, the more we love and accept ourselves and the feelings, the more our roots  spread into that soil;  The more our roots go into that soil, the more we love and accept ourselves  and appreciate our emotions.  

If we are allowed (by ourselves) to ground and feel, we can be like a plant in the ocean.  The more we ground the deeper we are able to root into the knowledge that “this too shall pass” during storms.

So, what if our emotions are our guides?  All of them?  And what if we are supposed to go through them?  And share them with others?  And what if this going through them is how to connect with the universe, cosmos, God, deeper self (insert what works for you)?

Do something for me (humor me).

Lay on the ground like a star, arms and legs spread out comfortably.

Take some deep breaths.  Invite the breath to fill you up.  As you release your breath, let go of everything.  Let your body melt into the earth; With each breath more relaxing and letting go.

Do you feel the earth supporting you?

What if . . . 

The earth is here to hold you

You are here for the earth to hold.

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About the Author

Elysa Barron is a mother of two among other things. she doesn't care what clothes you wear or how big (or small) your house is. she is most interested in your heart and if you hear it.